Upcoming Movie Musicals To Keep On Your Radar

2021 was a great year for people who love movie musicals but a bad one for studio executives who love movie musicals that make a lot of money. While "In the Heights" and "West Side Story" had all the visual panache one would expect from a pair of big screen Broadway adaptations directed by Jon M. Chu and Steven Spielberg, that wasn't enough to draw large crowds to theaters in the midst of Covid. Elsewhere, "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" forewent a theatrical release entirely in favor of streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video while "Annette" and "tick, tick... BOOM!" only played in theaters long enough to qualify for awards consideration.

Disney Animation's "Encanto" was the sole exception to this rule, grossing enough at the box office to qualify as a success at a time when most family oriented films are either debuting day-and-date or premiering as streaming exclusives. All the same, its struggles this year (thankfully) weren't bad enough to kill the movie musical outright. In fact, there are a handful of auspicious song and dance number-heavy films due to arrive in 2022. Elsewhere, another Oscar-winning filmmaker is preparing to tackle a musical for the first time before Chu returns with what could be the project that restores the genre to its former box office glory.


Technically, "Cyrano" opened in theaters this month, but unless you live in Los Angeles and/or review movies for a living, odds are you won't be seeing this one until next year. For those who're only just hearing about this film for the first time, it's adapted from Erica Schmidt's 2018 stage musical, itself based on Edmond Rostand's classic 1897 play, "Cyrano de Bergerac," about a masterly poet and duelist whose insecurity over his unusually large nose prevents him from confessing his feelings to the woman he loves.

"Cyrano" sees Peter Dinklage (who's married to Schmidt) reprise his role from the stage musical as the titular character (who, in this version, is looked down upon because of his small physical stature), with Haley Bennett ("The Girl on the Train") playing his love interest, Roxanne, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. ("Luce") co-starring as Christian, the handsome yet ineloquent soldier who develops romantic feelings for Roxanne. Schmidt also penned the script for the movie, with Joe Wright calling the shots.

The quality of Wright's past directorial efforts is all over the place, yet nobody's ever accused him of making visually uninteresting movies, and it sounds like "Cyrano" might be his best work in a while. It probably won't break the musical's losing streak at the box office, but that shouldn't discourage anyone interested from checking this one out at some point.

"Cyrano" begins a semi-wide theatrical release on January 21, 2022.

Sesame Street

Songs have always been a key part of "Sesame Street," so it only made sense for the first two theatrical movies based on the ground-breaking children's entertainment series (1985's "Follow That Bird" and 1999's "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland") to be full-blooded musicals. That tradition will continue with "Sesame Street," a film that follows Big Bird and the rest of the Sesame gang on an adventure that takes them away from their home turf and into a strange new world known as ... Manhattan.

Non-puppet Anne Hathaway will join Big Bird and his pals as Sally Hawthorne, a "plucky history show host" who's out to prove that Sesame Street actually exists. Yes, it sounds like "Sesame Street" is getting a little meta in its return to the big screen, if not outright post-modern. With Bo Burnham also writing the songs (some of which, one assumes, will resemble a less depressing version of "How The World Works," minus the profanity), this one could end up having something meaningful to offer to kids and adults alike.

"Sesame Street" was most recently slated to reach theaters on January 14, 2022, but is currently without a date and may even go straight to streaming in light of the ongoing changes to the theater industry due to Covid.


Disney's effervescent, satirical, and cheerfully horny 2007 live-action/animated hybrid rom-com musical "Enchanted" is finally getting a followup in the form of "Disenchanted." Like its predecessor, the "Enchanted" sequel will feature several original tunes written by Disney Animation icon Alan Menken, giving returning stars Amy Adams, Idina Menzel, James Marsden, and even Patrick Dempsey a chance to sing their hearts out about the highs and lows of love and what happily ever after truly means.

"Disenchanted" will pick up in real-time from where the first movie left off, with fair maiden Giselle (Adams) and her family leaving NYC behind for the suburbs of Monroeville and all the challenges that come with their new home. As I've mentioned in the past, the odds aren't exactly in the film's favor; comedy sequels are a dicey proposition, least of all belated ones that have to catch up on years of changes in the pop culture landscape without just rehashing what came before. Still, Adams hasn't played the lead in a musical since her Oscar-worthy turn in "Enchanted" (and her last outing with the genre was, uh, "Dear Evan Hansen"), which is the real crime here and reason enough to give "Disenchanted" a fair shot.

"Disenchanted" premieres exclusively on Disney+ in the fall of 2022.

Spike Lee's Untitled Viagra Musical

That headline kind of says it all, doesn't it? Yes, the director of "Do the Right Thing" and "Da 5 Bloods" (among so many other significant films) is helming an original musical about Pfizer's other miracle medical treatment. Spike Lee will call the shots on the film, drawing from an adapted script he and multi-hyphenate Kwame Kwei-Armah penned based on the Esquire article "All Rise: The Untold Story of The Guys Who Launched Viagra."

Mark Stewart (aka Stew) and Heidi Rodewald are crafting the songs and music for Lee's untitled musical, having previously picked up a Tony award for their Broadway rock musical "Passing Strange" (the live filmed recording of which was helmed by Lee). Much like Spielberg, Lee has clearly been itching to make a musical for a long time and even worked an impromptu musical dance number into his 1986 feature directing debut, "She's Gotta Have It." He's only continued to sharpen his skills in that arena by overseeing music videos for the likes of Public Enemy and Stevie Wonder (among many others) over the decades since then, ensuring that his Viagra musical will, failing all else, be as stylish as anything else he's made.

Lee's untitled musical has yet to receive a release date.


There's been talk of a "Wicked" movie adaptation ever since the stage musical (itself based on Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel) became a record-breaking smash hit on Broadway in the early to mid 2000s. However, it wasn't until 2012 or so that Universal began to get serious about bringing the Tony-winning production to the big screen. Nearly ten years and a change in director later, the film version of "Wicked" is closer than it's even been to defying gravity (sorry, it had to be done) and becoming a reality.

Cynthia Erivo (who won a Tony for her role in the 2015 Broadway revival of "The Color Purple") and pop music star Ariana Grande are set to headline the "Wicked" movie musical as Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, with Chu directing on the heels of his critical success with "In the Heights." For the uninitiated, "Wicked" itself is a re-imagining of the characters from "The Wizard of Oz" that explores the intimate relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, as well as how the former came to be vilified by the Wizard and his supporters.

Assuming all the pieces fit smoothly together, "Wicked" has the potential to become the first true blockbuster live-action movie musical in a hot minute (not counting any of Disney's remakes of its animated films) by the time it's ready in, most likely, late 2023. Obviously, though, that's a long ways away, so best to not make too many wild predictions just yet.